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Polish Recipes Newsletter

How to Pickle Cucumbers ~ Polish Sour Pickles Recipe

Many customers have asked us how to make pickles, Polish style.  That means no vinegar and using natural fermentation.  It is the old-fashioned way of making pickles with just herbs and sea salt.  So we thought we should post a nice Polish recipe describing how to make sour cucumbers, below.  Pickling cucumbers is actually fairly easy, much easier than making pierogi.  Another benefit to learning how to pickle cucumbers is that when you pickle cucumbers yourself, you get all the natural probiotics that are ruined when they pasteurize the bottled pickles found at most stores.  And, you can save quite a bit of money!  

During the summer months, you can get the best cucumbers for pickling at most local farmer's market.  They are not the long cucumbers you find at stores--these will give you mushy pickles.  Also, do not purchase commercially waxed cucumbers for pickling either -- the salt will not penetrate them properly.  To find the right type of cucumbers, note that picklers tend to be shorter, thicker, no more than 4 to 5 inches in length, less regularly shaped, and have bumpy skin with tiny white- or black-dotted spines. They are never waxed. Color can vary from creamy yellow to pale or dark green. Pickling cucumbers are sometimes sold fresh as “Kirby” or “Liberty” cucumbers.  The key is that they are picked at the prefect time in harvest, not too early and not too mature.  Lastly, to make this Polish recipe work, you MUST use unrefined sea salt.  Do not use salt with iodine.
 

Polish Sour Pickles Recipe ~ How to Pickle Cucumbers
 

  • Glass or ceramic crock, or food-grade plastic bucketHow to Make Pickles
  • Plate that fits inside crock or bucket to keep pickles submerged
  • Cloth cover or lid
  • 15-20 cucumbers (if they are tight in the jar, they are less likely to float to the top)
  • one garlic head
  • horseradish root
  • Flowering dill (best if used dried flower and stems)
  • 1-2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • fresh small paprikas (if you want spicy)
  • Pinch black peppercorns
  • handful of grape leaves
  • unrefined sea salt
     

How to Make Sour Pickles RECIPE DIRECTIONS

1.  Make sure you have all the right ingredients.  If you can not find fresh horseradish, that is okay, but you do want to have plenty of freshly dried dill and garlic.  

2.  Wash cucumbers in cold water thoroughly, but do not use a vegetable brush on the skin. Remove the blossoms on the cucumbers.  Wash your container and sterilize with hot water.  Everything you use most be washed and sterilized or you could ruin the whole container with any bad bacteria.

3.  Place herbs, garlic, roots, and seeds in jar first.  Regular store bought dill can be used, but if you can find the flower at the top of the dill plant, that has the best flavor.  Add dill stems too!  Make sure to dry these for a few days before adding. Fresh tannin-rich grape leaves placed in the crock are effective at keeping pickles crunchy.  We recommend using them if you have access to grape vines. Other brine pickle recipes use sour cherry leaves, oak leaves, and horseradish leaves to keep pickles crunchy, so try adding these as well.  Then add your cucumbers.  Arrange cucumbers so that they are even at the top of the jar.

4.  Boil water in a kettle.  Pour boiling water into a glass measuring cup/beaker. If you have a 1 quart cup, pour to the top and add 2-3 tablespoons unrefined sea salt and stir well to make a brine.  Then add to pickling jar.  Keep adding brine till you cover the pickles.  (Brine: 1 quart boiling water = 2-3 tablespoon salt).  Do not do less than 2 tablespoons of salt.

3.  If pickles float to top, place a sterilized plate on top to keep them submerged in the salty water to prevent mold from growing. Then cover jar.  

4.  Place in a cool, dark location and let the fermentation begin!  You may be able to taste them in five to seven days, depending on how warm your room is, or it could take up to 2.5 weeks.  Just check daily.  Skim any mold from the surface, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all. If there’s mold, be sure to rinse the plate. Note, if you sterilize everything really well, use enough salt, and keep the pickles submerged, mold should not grow.  Taste the pickles after a few days.

5.  Enjoy the pickles as they continue to ferment. Continue to check the crock every day.

6.  Eventually, after two weeks (depending on the temperature), the pickles should be fully sour. Continue to enjoy them, moving them to the fridge to slow down fermentation.  You can place them in smaller jars with the brine and store in the refrigerator for many weeks too. 

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